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What Leadership Really Is

It’s possible that you think of leadership completely wrong.

It’s possible that you don’t even accurately understand what leadership really is.

Because for whatever reason, we often think of the leader as the person who is elevated.

We think of the leader as the boss who should be feared and respected.

We think of the leader as the person in charge and the person who calls the shots.

And because we sometimes think about leadership in that way, then when by pursuit or circumstance we get designated as the leader, that’s how we think it should be.

We think we should be elevated.

We think we should be the boss.

We think we should call the shots.

But we are wrong.

Or that is at least an immature understanding of leadership.

Over the years at Southwestern Consulting we’ve had the opportunity to work with great leaders, coach great leaders, and we’ve been lucky to have been mentored directly by great leaders.

One of them, CEO of the Southwestern Family of Companies Henry Bedford, taught us early on that one of the jobs of the leader is to remove barriers from people on the front lines.

He taught us that leadership is not about having the fancy back corner office but that the important work is done on the front lines.

He taught us that leadership is not about having people working for you but about having people and a mission for whom it is worth working for.

In simple terms, he and other mature leaders like Ken Blanchard, have taught us that leadership is about service.

It’s not about being served; it’s about serving.

It’s not about being protected; it’s about protecting.

It’s not about being revered; it’s about revering.

But serving doesn’t mean you’re weak. And it doesn’t mean you just do whatever people want you to do.

It means you look out for the best interest of the team.

It means you protect the pursuit of the mission.

It means you strive to provide for the people in your care.

And it means you lay down and move beyond your own ego and dedicate yourself to elevating the status and survival of the collective.

In short, leadership means serving.

So if serving is beneath you, then perhaps leadership is beyond you.

3 Ways to Outperform Your Competition

There is a lot of value for any organization to be gained from being “best in class, #1, champion, or industry leader, etc.”

But with so much competition and so much universal availability of resources, how can you consistently rise above and outperform your competition or even just outperform your own potential?

Simple.

Regardless of whether you’re trying to beat someone else or just break your own personal records, it brings us back to 3 truths that remain timeless and relevant even in a world of constant change and technological advancement.

1. Work Longer – Work more hours than anyone else or than you ever have before. There is so much power in sheer volume. Don’t underestimate it. Find a way to take time from insignificant activities you’re engaging in to reallocate towards your goals that really matter. (Hint: if you’re watching the US average of 27 hours a week of television, start there!)

It’s also not just your own total personal hours (which should of course always be maximized in the direction of your key priorities) but that of your team as well. When you grow your trained staff, you’re growing the total number of hours being invested into the achievement of your mission.

2. Work Faster – Become more efficient. Stay more focused. And increase your sense of urgency to squeeze the ultimate value out of each second out of yourself and your team every single day. If you can eliminate distractions or unnecessary work from yourself and your team that will give you instant lift.

Also, as discussed in our most recent book Procrastinate on Purpose, “automation is to your time what compounding interest is to your money.” So, anything that can be automated, operationalized, or streamlined should be because over the long haul you will get ROTI Return on Time Invested. Most of all though it’s your own internal intention, focus, and discipline that needs to be mastered.

3. Work Smarter – There is such a thing as “a sharper axe.” So, it does make sense to be intelligent and strategic. For example, if you’re in sales, learn to master asking for referrals, prospect by vertical markets, use scripts and get a sales coach.

If you’re a small business owner learn the tools that will help you scale your business and generate leads.

If you’re busy at all, learn to multiply your time by spending time on things today that create more time tomorrow.

If you’re a leader, create the space you need to spend time developing your people. You also could get a leadership coach to shortcut your learning curve.

But never use working smarter as an excuse or justification for working less.

And never use the excuse that if you can’t work longer for some reason that you still can’t find a way to beat your best.

Because it’s not just about working smarter or working faster, or working longer.

When it comes to outperforming your potential, it’s always about a combination of all of the above.

Strengthening Client Relationships with Amanda Johns Vaden – Episode 210 of The Action Catalyst Podcast

Amanda Johns Vaden is a Founding Partner at Southwestern Consulting ™, which is an international, multi-million dollar sales consulting organization, which focuses on creating systems to increase performance. Amanda and Southwestern Consulting work with companies such as Wells Fargo, Keller Williams, DIRECTV and AFLAC just to name a few.

Amanda is a million dollar producer, Senior Consultant, Executive Coach and Keynote Speaker with Southwestern Consulting™. She speaks throughout the country to thousands of sales professionals every year in coordination with her upcoming books Selling to the Sexes: Everything You Need to Know About Selling to the Opposite Sex and 4-Dimensional Follow Up: How to Increase Client Retention and Develop Customer Loyalty.

She is a featured speaker for the Better Business Bureau, Business Journal and Chambers of Commerce all across the country. She is also the Founder of Southwestern Speakers, which is a full service speakers bureau that works with companies to help them find and source keynote speakers for their annual meetings and events. And lastly, she is Division Manager of the Success Starts Now! Conference series in which she responsible for recruiting, hiring, training and managing their full time sales force. As part of her ‘practitioner’s’ belief she remains active as a sales manager, personal producer and content developer.

Show Highlights:

Without trust you don’t have client relationships. @amandajohnsSWC

If there isn’t trust, you aren’t getting repeat business. @amandajohnsSWC

My best prospects are my best clients. @amandajohnsSWC

I don’t want them to think they’ve signed up for something that will go 100% perfect, because I know that it’s not. @amandajohnsSWC

When it doesn’t go perfect, I don’t want to have to make excuses for why it didn’t. @amandajohnsSWC

It’s healthy for your clients to know you on a human level, not just a vendor level. @amandajohnsSWC

It’s not lay it all out for the world but allowing people to get to know you. @amandajohnsSWC

Gifts are a sign of appreciation. @amandajohnsSWC

Whether you give me your business or not, I’m going to give you my time and attention. @amandajohnsSWC

Get in where you can get in, prove that you’re worth it and build from there. @amandajohnsSWC

 

The Action Catalyst is a weekly podcast hosted by Rory Vaden of Southwestern Consulting every Wednesday. The show is regularly in the Top 25 of Business News Podcasts, has listeners from all around the world and shares “insights and inspiration to help you take action.” Each week Rory shares ideas on how to increase your self-discipline and make better use of your time to help you achieve your goals in life. He also interviews special expert guests and thought leaders. Subscribe on iTunes and please leave a rating and review!

How to Immediately Increase Your Self Discipline

How to Immediately Increase Your Self Discipline

After delivering a keynote speaking presentation last week a man comes up to me and asks, “Rory what could I do immediately to increase my self-discipline?”

It’s a good question, and the best answer is pretty simple but before I share the answer with you it’s valuable to understand the context of the answer.

I think this particular man, and most people in general who might ask this question, are looking for a permanent solution.

They’re looking for something they can do once that will permanently improve their self-discipline.

But that is the wrong way of thinking about it.

Success in anything is almost never the result of doing things right one time.

Success is the byproduct of doing things right consistently over periods of time.

And you will never really be successful until you actually understand that.

But that doesn’t mean the answer isn’t powerful. The answer is powerful because it’s the same answer in every situation.

So in that way it is something you can learn to do once, and then if you can get yourself to repeat that one habit consistently over time, it will bring you the success you’re looking for.

(Which, by the way, is why our core business at Southwestern Consulting is 1 on 1 coaching because we know what people really need help with is not learning one time what they need to do but rather they need help with the accountability of actually getting themselves to do the thing consistently over a long period of time.)

So back to the issue at hand. How do you immediately increase your self-discipline?

Simple: you think longer term.

Anytime you evaluate a decision in the context of what feels good here and now, you’re going to always gravitate towards doing the easiest thing.

But anytime you evaluate a decision in the context of what is going to make tomorrow better, easier, and more fruitful then you’re willingness to endure sacrifice increases.

We often think that we don’t have “enough” discipline but that is inaccurate.

We have plenty of self discipline.

It’s just that self discipline becomes dormant in the absence of a dream.

So it’s not really a matter of increasing your self discipline as much as it’s a matter of activating it.

It’s already there.

As you get clear on what you want in the future, your energy activates for what you can endure right now.

If you’re not thinking about the impacts on your future, you default to what creates the best situation right now – which is usually indulgence.

It’s not a matter of how much willpower you have.

It’s a matter of how long is your perspective.

So the permanent solution that is immediately available to you for increasing your self discipline  is to think longer term.

But you can’t just do it once. You have to do that every time you’re confronted with a decision about whether or not to be disciplined.

Which is why we at Southwestern say “success is never owned; it is only rented – and the rent is due every day.”

The Difference Between Good Customer Service and Great Customer Service

The Difference Between Good Customer Service and Great Customer Service

Pardon the bathroom setting of this story but I think it’s worth the lesson.

It was just another normal travel day for me as I headed into a Charlotte airport E-Terminal public restroom for a quick stop in between flights.

Like most people, I’ve obviously been in plenty of public restrooms over the years and probably encountered maybe 50 bathroom attendants- but none like the one on this particular day.

I’ve rarely ever given any of them any tip because they didn’t really provide much value to me unless they had a stash of products sitting there and I used something.

But on this particular day I walked in and was enthusiastically greeted with a big presence and a large smile.

“Welcome in sir. You’re looking sharp! My name is William and my goal is to keep it fresh, keep it fun and keep it as fast as possible for you while you’re in here!”

“Fun?!” I thought to myself. “This could be interesting.”

William’s first act though was that he sprayed a very pleasant air freshener in the general direction I was heading.

Then before I had a chance to even react he said “please allow me to help” and gently grabbed my bags from my hand.

Once he saw where I was headed he actually walked over in front of me and sprayed the handle I would be using with disinfectant spray and quickly wiped it off. He smiled again.

At that point he then wiped down the handles of my bags and placed them near the exit of the restroom.

As I prepared to exit, he beat me over to the sink and turned on the faucet for me so it was running warm before I arrived and then held out a bottle of soap to squirt some right into my hand and smiled again.

Before I was done rinsing my hands, he tore off a couple paper towels and patiently waited with them standing by for when I was ready.

As I dried my hands he grabbed my bags (with a towel covering his hand) and brought them over to me with a big smile and said “my guess is you’re a busy guy with not a lot of time to spare. Can I answer any questions for you about where you’re headed in the airport?”

I simply smiled at him and said “thank you for your wonderful service William.” I handed him $5 and walked out.

Not only did I tip him, but he managed to pull off the same routine with every person as they walked into that restroom.

In the few minutes I was there, William must’ve earned around $15 in tips.

As I walked out I thought “what an incredible guy!”

And I asked myself what was it about William that made my experience so wonderful and unique that I would literally give him a $5 bill for doing things I could’ve easily done for myself?

Sure, he was positive, enthusiastic and pleasant and that counts for a lot. But I’ve met other pleasant bathroom attendants and never felt compelled to tip them.

And then I realized what his key service difference was…

He anticipated the need.

He didn’t just serve my needs. He anticipated them.

A clean bathroom with all the necessary items you need to do your business is meeting the need.

But when they’re each presented and activated for you on your behalf just moments before you need them, that’s special.

It’s special because it’s useful.

It’s useful because it’s helpful.

Because it’s helpful, that makes it valuable.

Delivering what your customers want is good customer service.

But great customer service is anticipating their needs before they come up.

It’s knowing what they’re going to need and supplying it before they even think to ask for it.

That’s what creates a great experience. And that is a part of what creates a unique experience.

It’s thinking through “what could make this experience better for my clients?”

“What could we do that would over deliver on their expectations?”

“What could save them time?”

“How can we be more useful?”

“How could we provide for our clients in a way that would far exceed anything they’ve ever experienced?”

Those are the types of questions that bring about remarkable customer service.

If William can do it with the ultimate commoditized experience, then surely we can all figure out a way to pick it up a notch for our own customers.

 

A First Step of Solving Almost Every Problem

A First Step of Solving Almost Every Problem

One of the biggest reasons why people struggle with solving problems is because they often overlook this critical first step.

Because no matter what the problem is or what the circumstance, you’re best hope for solving it almost always requires the exact same beginning.

You have to take ownership of the problem.

You have to internalize responsibility for your problem.

You have to resolve that regardless of how the problem came to be, it’s both your duty and your ability to find the solution.

It’s not something that you rely on someone else or something else to solve.

Because until you own your problem you can’t own your solution.

When you encounter a problem that you believe is the result of something outside yourself, then you will never be able to have power over that problem.

It is something that is happening to you of which you are just a bystander and a spectator.

By definition, its outside your control.

But when you own your problem, when you take responsibility for its existence, and when you decide that you’re in charge of fixing it, things start to change.

You stop viewing it as something that is occurring to you and you start viewing it as something you can maneuver.

You stop experiencing it and you start influencing it.

You stop being affected by it and you start affecting it.

Once you own your problem, you create the opportunity to find the solution.

Because if it happened to you through no fault of your own, then you are just an unfortunate victim of circumstances that are beyond your control.

But If you decide that you played some part in creating it, and you own it as your fault, then you can play the lead role in solving it.

And even if you didn’t create the problem. Even if the problem did result from something outside your control. You can still do something about it.

There are always things within your control that you can do. So do those things and never let any problem be an excuse for why you don’t focus on what is in your control.

While you can’t always control whether or not problems show up, you can always control how you respond to them and what you do about them.

One way or another, your life is your fault.

So own the problem.

Then own the solution.